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Investment, Accounting, and the Salience of the Corporate Income Tax


  • Jesse Edgerton


This paper develops and tests the hypothesis that accounting rules mitigate the effect of tax policy on firm investment decisions by obscuring the timing of tax payments. I model a firm that maximizes a discounted weighted average of after-tax cash flows and accounting profits. I estimate the weight placed on accounting profits by comparing the effectiveness of tax incentives that do and do not affect them. Investment tax credits, which do affect accounting profits, have larger effects on investment than accelerated depreciation, which does not. This difference in estimated effects is not obviously driven by discounting, cash flow effects, or measurement error. Results thus suggest that accelerated depreciation provisions are less effective than they otherwise would be and that the corporate income tax could create smaller distortions to investment decisions than we would otherwise estimate.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesse Edgerton, 2012. "Investment, Accounting, and the Salience of the Corporate Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 18472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18472
    Note: CF PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jane G. Gravelle, 1994. "The Economic Effects of Taxing Capital Income," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262071584, January.
    2. Timothy Erickson & Toni M. Whited, 2000. "Measurement Error and the Relationship between Investment and q," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1027-1057, October.
    3. Christian Keuschnigg & Evelyn Ribi, 2009. "Profit Taxation and Finance Constraints," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2009 2009-05, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    4. Desai, Mihir A. & Dyck, Alexander & Zingales, Luigi, 2007. "Theft and taxes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 591-623, June.
    5. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R. & Rajgopal, Shiva, 2005. "The economic implications of corporate financial reporting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-3), pages 3-73, December.
    6. Jason G. Cummins & Kevin A. Hassett & Stephen D. Oliner, 2006. "Investment Behavior, Observable Expectations, and Internal Funds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 796-810, June.
    7. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Dividend and Corporate Taxation in an Agency Model of the Firm," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 1-31, August.
    8. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "Redistributive taxation in a simple perfect foresight model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 59-83, October.
    9. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-622, May.
    10. Edgerton, Jesse, 2010. "Investment incentives and corporate tax asymmetries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 936-952, December.
    11. Keating, A. Scott & L. Zimmerman, Jerold, 1999. "Depreciation-policy changes: tax, earnings management, and investment opportunity incentives," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 359-389, December.
    12. Steven N. Kaplan & Luigi Zingales, 1997. "Do Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities Provide Useful Measures of Financing Constraints?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 169-215.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Eichfelder & Kerstin Schneider, 2014. "Tax Incentives and Business Investment: Evidence from German Bonus Depreciation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4805, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Becker, Johannes & Steinhoff, Melanie, 2014. "Tax accounting principles and corporate risk-taking," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(1), pages 79-81.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting

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